from Prelacy

Western Prelacy
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate
6252 Honolulu Avenue
La Crescenta, CA 91214
E-mail [email protected]
Telephone 818-248-7737
Fax 818-248-7745

Prelate’s Easter Message

Today Angels descending from heaven the give tidings of great joy to
mankind: “He who was crucified is risen and has resurrected you with
Him.” Let us then renew our lives with renewal as a new people today
through the Resurrection of Christ. (from the Patrum Chant of Easter
Morning)

Being obedient to the Will of His Father, the Son of God stretched His
immaculate arms upon the Cross, thereby perfectly fulfilling His
earthly mission. He was buried in a new tomb, and then rose from the
dead on the third day as the immortal and heavenly groom. By His
death He trampled upon Death, and He granted new life to all those who
believed in Him, and who followed His Way, His Truth, and His Life.

With the glorious Resurrection our Lord Jesus Christ completed the
mission of the revelation of God, and as the Lamb of God, He took away
the sin of the world.

Behold once again the supreme meaning of our Faith and the foundation
of its victory are celebrated with the joyous tidings of the
Resurrection which fill our hearts and enkindle our souls with new
breath.

“Today Angels descending from Heaven give tidings of great joy to
mankind: He who was crucified is risen and has resurrecuted you with
Him.”

Such encouraging words! Such a hopeful testimony! Such inspiring
good tidings!

The Apostle Paul, the famous preacher of the Resurrection, conveys to
us the great message with the same inspiration and emphasis:

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are
above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”
(Colossians 3:1)

The Oil-bearing Women who discovered the empty tomb early on the first
day of the week and told the Disciples were indeed the first witnesses
of the Resurrection. They saw the risen Lord, they received His
peaceful greeting, and as He commanded them, they went out to the
entire world, baptized all who believed, preached salvation, and by
giving testimony of the hope of the Resurrection, turned the eyes and
attention of the faithful to the gloriousSecond Coming of the Lord.

>From the earliest days following the Pentecost, the lives of our
people have been miraculously transformed through the miracle of the
Resurrection because our fathers and mothers not only understood the
mystery of the Resurrection but in fact effected the very mystery of
renewal in the life of the Armenian nation.

Today, more than ever, the Feast of the Resurrection invites us to
accept the responsibility of renewal by abiding in the way of truth.

Dear faithful,

As children of the Armenian nation and as members of the same Church,
let us go forth in the spirit of the message of the Holy Resurrection,
remembering the words of the Apostle Paul:

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death,
certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection:
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body
of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of
sin.” (Romans 6:5-6)

Our Lord Jesus Christ comforted His disciples, saying:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In
the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have
overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

With these same words of encouragement, as children of God and
children of the Armenian nation, let us strive to overcome our own
tribulations, weaknesses, and doubts. Let us flee from all those
conditions and lifestyles which obscure and indeed which thwart the
manifestation of the risen Lord in our life. Let us be mindful of the
message of Apostle Paul not to follow in the ways of those who choose
not to be obedient to God, and enhanced with the spirit ofthe
Resurrection in our personal, family, national, and church lives, let
us “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with
his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge
according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:9-10).

Dear faithful,

Let us comprehend the mystery of the Resurrection according to the
encyclical of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of
Cilicia, by which he has declared 2004 to be the “Year of the Armenian
Family.”

Let us renew and restore our family life by strengthening our
Apostolic Faith, by rediscovering our traditions and customs, and by
reconnecting theyouth of the community with our ancestral virtues.

May the presence of the resurrected Saviour within every Armenian
family bestow a new life therein and transform us into a family of
Paradise so that our attention and focus may be directed heavenward.

By the Resurrection of Christ may every Armenian family be cleansed of
transgressions, and being rejuvenated, may every Armenian family
resume theWay to Truth and Eternal Life.

+++

Renewed by the message of the glorious and holy Resurrection, we
convey our love and Easter Greetings and Blessings to the Reverend
Clergy, the Central Executive, the parishes and parochial
institutions, educational and cultural organizations, charitable
foundations, and all of the faithful who serve and are served within
the Prelacy. We pray that our Lord who renews all may grace us
likewise, and through His Resurrection may He grant newness of life in
Armenia, in Artsakh, and throughout the Diaspora.

Christ is risen from the dead! Blessed is the Resurrection of Christ!

Prayerfully yours,

Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Easter, 2004

Prelate, Western United States

20,000 Armenian Protesters Demand President Quit

Rueters
April 9 2004

20,000 Armenian Protesters Demand President Quit

By Hasmik Lazarian

YEREVAN (Reuters) – About 20,000 demonstrators massed in the capital
of ex-Soviet Armenia on Friday to demand the resignation of President
Robert Kocharyan and vowed to press their protests through next week.

In the largest public gathering since mass protests denouncing
alleged irregularities in Kocharyan’s re-election last year,
demonstrators answering the call of two opposition parties poured
into Freedom Square.

“Today, the fate of Armenia is being decided,” Stepan Demirchyan,
head of the opposition Justice Party, told supporters chanting
“Kocharyan out!”

Protest leaders had failed to seek official permission to hold the
rally, but police took no action. New protests were planned every
evening next week to pursue opposition demands.

Kocharyan’s leadership in the Caucasus country remains beset by a
failure to resolve a protracted dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh — a
territory populated by ethnic Armenians but assigned to mainly Muslim
Azerbaijan in Soviet times.

Participants in Friday’s rally said they wanted to secure changes to
a law on referendums to hold a nationwide confidence vote on
Kocharyan’s administration.

The Constitutional Court proposed such a vote immediately after
Kocharyan’s re-election, but authorities took no action. “This would
be a good chance to ensure the president’s departure in a civilized
fashion,” Demirchyan told the crowd.

Parties backing the president have said a referendum would be
unconstitutional, but have offered talks with the opposition.

Opposition parties, which hold 25 of 131 seats in parliament after
elections in May 2003, suspended their activity in the assembly in
February after failing to persuade authorities to stage a referendum.
But they returned last month to press their campaign for Kocharyan’s
resignation.

Observers said the parliamentary election last year was less
fraudulent than the poll two months earlier that kept Kocharyan in
power, but was still not up to international standards.

The parliamentary poll was the first since eight senior officials,
including Armenia’s prime minister, were killed in a 1999 shooting
spree in the National Assembly.

Armenian opposition begins open-ended sit-in strike

ITAR-TASS, Russia
April 9 2004

Armenian opposition begins open-ended sit-in strike

09.04.2004, 21.00

YEREVAN, April 9 (Itar-Tass) — The Armenian opposition that demands
the resignation of President Robert Kocharyan begins an open-ended
sit-in strike on the square in front of the Yerevan Opera Theatre,
speakers at a Friday rally of the opposition announced.

The rally organizers said that up to 60,000 people participated in
the rally, the police said it was up to 6,500.

The opposition demanded that the authorities set a day of the
referendum before April 12, and pledged to hold rallies at 6:00 p.m.
every day.

A march in the city center followed the rally. The march will not go
to the presidential palace, which is protected by the police, in
order to avoid clashes, Chairman of the Republic Party Albert Bazeyan
said.

News from Armenian Holy Apostolic Church – Canadian Diocese

PRESS OFFICE
Contact; Deacon Hagop Arslanian, Assistant to the Primate
615 Stuart Avenue, Outremont Quebec H2V 3H2
Tel; 514-276-9479, Fax; 514-276-9960
Email; [email protected] Website;

Grand Nieces of the late Sara Corning visited His Eminence Bishop
Bagrat Galstanian

On Wednesday, April 7 2004 His Eminence Bishop Bagrat Galstanian
received the grand nieces of Sara Corning, Ms Margaret Peterson and Ms
Judith Csukly. During the cordial reception at the Diocesan
headquarters, Ms Margaret Peterson and Ms Judith Csukly talked
extensively about Sara Corning.

Sara Corning is a native of Nova Scotia who had rescued thousands of
Armenian Children from the port of Smyrna in the summer of 1922. These
were orphan children, survivors of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated
by the Ottoman Turks. As a member of the Red Cross unit in Near East,
in appreciation of Sara Corning’s dedication to humanitarian causes,
King George II of Greece had granted her “the Silver Cross of the
Knights” in June 1923. Sara Corning, therefore, has been a great
Canadian and a true friend of the Armenian people.

M.P Sarkis Assdourian, Chairman of Canada-Armenia Parliamentary
Friendship Group has organized a reception to pay tribute to the
memory of Sara Corning. On this occasion, the Spiritual Leader of the
Armenian Church His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians,
has issued an Encyclical, which will be delivered to the relatives of
Sara Corning by His Eminence Bishop Bagrat Galstanian, Primate of the
Armenian Church of Canada on the 21st of April 2004.

A Successful Blood Drive in Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide

On April 2nd 2004, the Diocesan Youth Council of the Armenian Holy
Apostolic Church of Canada, under the auspices of His Eminence Bishop
Bagrat Galstanian, Primate organized a Blood Drive with Hema-Quebec at
Village Montpellier shopping centre in St Laurent.

This year, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada and the
faithful have decided to commemorate the Armenian Genocide by helping
those in need and the less fortunate of the community. This is a way
for Canadian Armenians to express and to remember that despite the
planned extermination of Armeniansby the Turkish Ottoman Empire during
the First World War, the Armenian people are lively present and active
in today’s world. Asked why he’s donating blood, Sari Farra, an AGBU
scout said that “our forefathers lost their blood innocently; I
decided to commemorate that loss by giving my blood for a good cause”.
Hema-Quebec was very pleased by the outcome of this event. The
objective ofhundred donors was successfully reached do to generous
contribution of Armenian community members.

The event was the first being organized by the Church that will take
place in the month of April. The Church is also collecting toys in
support of the Montreal’s Children Hospital and non-perishable food
items in support of “Sun Youth”.

Martyrs Prayer and Ecumenical Service will take place commemorating
the Victims of the Armenian Genocide

Under the auspices of the Primate of the Armenian Church of Canada,
His Eminence Bishop Bagrat Galstanian, Martyrs Prayer and Ecumenical
Service will take place at Saint Gregory the Illuminator Armenian
Cathedral of Montreal (615, Stuart; Corner Bernard-Stuart) on Friday
night April 23, 2004 commemoratingthe victims of the Armenian
Genocide.

On this occasion, Montreal Church leaders and eminent political
representatives are invited to participate and deliver their
message. The Primate of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada and the
Archbishop of the Anglican Church, His Eminence Andrew Hutchison of
Montréal will be the prime spiritual leader to deliver his message,
the representatives of Roman Catholic Cardinal of Greater Montreal,
Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Assyrian
and Coptic Churches will be attending the ceremony.

Bishop Galstanian will celebrate Divine Liturgy in Toronto

His Eminence Bishop Bagrat Galstnaian, will celebrate Divine Liturgy
on the occasion of the 89th anniversary of commemoration of the
Armenian Genocide at Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church of
Toronto.

The leader of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto His Eminence
Aloysius Matthew Cardinal Ambrozic will be the prime speaker during
the ceremony. Abp of Anglican Archdiocese of Toronto Terrence Finley,
Secretary General of Canadian Council of Churches Dr Karen Hamilton,
Ecumenical representatives and politicians will be attending the
religious ceremony and the special requiem service on Saturday, April
24 at 7:00pm.

Armenian Art Exhibition under the auspices of the Primate

An art exhibition of artists from Armenia was held last week end
(April 2-4) in the Marie Manoogian Hall of the St-Gregory the
Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Cathedral in Outremont.

The event, which was the first of a series of events on the occasion
of the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the Armenian Holy
Apostolic Church Canadian Diocese, was under the auspices of the
Primate of the Diocese, His Eminence Bishop Bagrat Galstanian.

The exhibition was a joint organization of the Parish Council of the
St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Cathedral, “Momik”
Armenian Centre (Armenia) and “Armenian Art” magazine (Armenia). There
were more than 70 paintings exhibited which were works of several
Armenian artists of Armeniaand some hand made craft.

The president of the Parish Council Mr. Megerduitch Kanondjian opened
the Vernissage, welcoming the hundreds of people who came to
contemplate the works, then he introduced the guests Mr. Karen
Matevossian, President of the “Momik” centre and the chief-editor of
the Armenian Art” magazine, and Mrs. Hasmik Ginoyan, the director of
the Centre. Then Mr. Kanondjian invited Very Rev. Father Ararat
Kaltakjian to deliver the evening’s message to the art loving people
present. The Pastor of the Cathedral Rev. Father Vazgen Boyajyan read
the Primate’s message to the guests. At the end Mr. Matevossian
thanked the Primate, the Parish Council and the organizing committee
members.

The exhibition will be transferred to Vancouver for the next week end
and then will move to Toronto.

The Schedule of His Eminence Bishop Galstanian for the month of April

We hereby would like to present to the Clergy, Diocesan Council
members, Parish councils and faithful of the Armenian Holy Apostolic
Church, Dioceseof Canada the Schedule of His Eminence Bishop Bagrat
Galstanian for the month of April 2004.-

April 8- Maundy Thursday Divine Liturgy Ceremony of the washing of the
feet, khavaroom, St Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Cathedral of
Montreal.

April 9-Burial of our Lord St Gregory the Illuminator Armenian
Cathedral Montreal.

April 10- Easter Eve meeting with the Christian Education Council
Sunday School Department.

April 10- Divine Liturgy, Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Toronto

April 11- Easter (Zadik) St Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral of
Montreal

April 12- Food Drive (In support of Sun Youth celebrating there “50-th
anniversary” a local charitable organization which helps less
fortunate families. Foods gathered on this occasion will be given to
Sun Youth by the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada on behalf of
Canadian Armenian community).

April 18- New Sunday, Communion and Blessing of Alex Manoogian-Armen
Quebec Armenian school, Montreal St Gregory the Illuminator Armenian
Cathedral.

April 22- Toy Drive (In support of the Montreal Children’s Hospital
celebrating “100 years of caring for Children”. Toys gathered will be
donated to Montreal Children’s Hospital. Bishop Galstanian, Clergy of
the Diocese and Youth council executive will be present).

April 23- Martyr’s Prayer and Ecumenical service commemoration of
April 24th, Armenian Genocide organized by Diocesan Youth Council and
ACYOC’s of Montreal and Laval. The key speaker will be the Archbishop
of the Anglican Church of Montreal His Eminence Archbishop Andrew
Hutchison at Saint Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Cathedral,
Montreal.

April 24- Divine Liturgy Toronto Holy Trinity Armenian Church. Toronto
Church leaders and politicians will be present on this occasion.

DIVAN OF THE DIOCESE

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

www.armenianchurch.ca

More Than 10,000 Protest in Armenia

More Than 10,000 Protest in Armenia

By AVET DEMOURIAN
.c The Associated Press

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) – More than 10,000 protested Friday in the heart
of the Armenian capital to demand the resignation of President Robert
Kocharian, defying a ban on the rally.

Two opposition parties that organized the peaceful protest accuse
Kocharian of rigging last year’s elections, corruption, systematic
human rights abuses and mismanagement of the economy.

Stepan Demirchian, a leader of the Justice Party, said the opposition
parties would not negotiate with the president until parliament
accepts their demand that a bill be submitted calling for a referendum
on the current leadership.

“This can be a good opportunity for the president to resign in a
civilized way,” Demirchian said.

After a smaller opposition rally on Monday, officials banned the
Friday gathering.

But one television report said police were instructed not to try to
disperse the demonstration unless it became disorderly, and Friday
police did not interfere with the rally.

Kocharian won a second term a year ago in elections that sparked mass
protests, including near-daily demonstrations between the first round
of voting in February 2003 and a runoff in early March.

Opposition groups alleged widespread violations in both rounds of the
election, which was followed by a parliamentary ballot won
overwhelmingly by the pro-government party.

In April, Armenia’s Constitutional Court confirmed the results of the
vote but suggested a referendum be held within a year to gauge public
confidence in the nation’s leaders.

04/09/04 16:09 EDT

Belgium: Officials defend display referring to U.S. ‘genocide’

Tribnet.com
Saturday, April 10, 2004

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Officials defend display referring to
U.S. ‘genocide’ The Associated Press

A display praising the merits of peacekeeping that cited the killing
of native North Americans as the world’s worst genocide shouldn’t be
considered a jab at the United States, Belgian defense officials said
Thursday.

The display, shown at the monument of the Unknown Soldier in Brussels
this week, was meant to honor Belgian soldiers who died in
humanitarian missions.

It included a panel listing North America as having the world’s worst
genocide with a death toll of 15 million, starting with Columbus’ 1492
arrival in the New World but giving no end date.

The daily De Standaard called the display insulting to Washington.

The newspaper complained about a list of genocides that mentioned Nazi
Germany, Rwanda, Cambodia, Armenia and other countries – but ignored
killings in the Stalin’s Soviet Union and Europe’s colonial past,
including the Belgian Congo.

(Published 1:00AM, April 9th, 2004)

Three-Headed Coalition Statement

A1 Plus | 20:20:30 | 09-04-2004 | Politics |

THREE-HEADED COALITION STATEMENT

After discussing the opposition proposal on confidence referendum, the
ruling coalition came up with a statement:

1. Taking into account that the proposal doesn’t correspond to Armenian
Constitution and the lows, the coalition reiterates its position, expressed
by the National Assembly’s vote.

2. At the same time, the coalition expresses its willingness to discuss any
problem linked to political situation in the republic, including the issue
of the proposal legitimacy, at the round table.

Armenian Republican Party
Orinats Erkir party
Dashnaktsutyun party

Middle Eastern kubbe is a holiday favorite

courier-journal.com
Friday, April 9, 2004

Middle Eastern kubbe is a holiday favorite

By SARAH FRITSCHNER
[email protected]
The Courier-Journal
“The epitome of honest country cooking, (kibbeh) satisfies deep down as few
other foods can. Preparing and eating this perennial favorite is not only a
hallowed tradition; it is a universal addiction!”

– Sonia Uvezian

“Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen.”
(University of Texas, 1999)

Kubbe’s mixture has been called “the masterpiece of the Middle Eastern
table.” The beef is made many different ways.

Photo by PAM SPAULDING,
The C-J
When A.J. Thomas’ father moved to Louisville from Lebanon, he brought with
him a deep marble mortar of sorts, what would be called a jurn in Lebanon.
It was the traditional tool for pounding lamb or beef into a paste with
finely grated onion, salt, pepper and cinnamon. The meat was mixed with
bulgur – cracked wheat that had been cooked and dried – after it was soaked
in ice water.

The mixture has been called “the masterpiece of the Middle Eastern table,”
says Paula Wolfert in her book, “The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean”
(Harper Collins, 1994). It is referred to as kibbeh, kibbee, kubbe, kubba,
kofte, koupas and keufteh, depending on where you come from – Cyprus to
Armenia – and how your original language has been Americanized.

Thomas pronounces it kubbe (kuh-bee) and grew up in Louisville eating it as
the main course of Sunday dinner.

For these Sunday meals, the mixture wasn’t cooked. In those pre-E. coli
0157:H7 days, people of Eastern Mediterranean descent ate raw beef and lamb
regularly.

Many still do, says Thomas, co-owner of A. Thomas Food Service, who goes to
great pains to make a kubbe-friendly beef available to those who want to eat
raw kubbe, French steak tartare, Sicilian insalata di carne cruda or who
just enjoy a hamburger cooked rare.

Though Thomas says, “we can’t say that it’s safe to eat raw,” the beef they
use for kubbe has been ground with special precautions (the federal
government recommends cooking all ground meat to the well-done stage).

At Thomas’ business, the beef round is trimmed of its surface meat, which is
discarded, exposing the inner, sterile part of the muscle. This beef is the
first ground in the morning, on equipment that was cleaned and disinfected
the night before. All the processing is done in a refrigerated room, and
completed by the same trained personnel who started the process. Then it is
vacuum-packed and chilled and sold only to people who have ordered it so
there are no leftovers.

Many local Lebanese of his generation rarely serve raw kubbe for Sunday
dinner these days, according to Thomas, but “a lot of people will buy this
meat for holidays.” He sells a lot during the winter holidays – Thanksgiving
and Christmas – and today, many people will pick up orders to serve at
Easter dinner.

Easter dinner at the Thomases’ will be pot luck and involve “probably just
the family,” says Thomas, “40 or 50 people.” Kubbe will be a side dish,
along with traditional Lebanese stuffed squash, lima beans and rice. Then,
he says, they’ll set up grills outside and cook ribs and leg of lamb.

Kubbe is made hundreds of different ways, and it is often cooked. Wolfert
has 50 variations in her cookbook (all cooked), and Uvezian includes an
entire chapter in both her Eastern Mediterranean book and “The Cuisine of
Armenia” (Harper & Row, 1974).

Thomas’ family makes it one way. To every 1 pound of kubbe meat, which is
seasoned with finely minced onion, salt, pepper and cinnamon, his mother
adds 1 cup of bulgur that has been soaked in ice water and squeezed dry.
Traditionally, the meat would have been pounded in the jurn, but now the
family uses finely ground beef.

“It’s all a timing thing with kubbe. It’s the last thing you mix before you
eat,” says Thomas.

For more information on specially processed beef, call A. Thomas Food
Service at 253-2000.

Is there a food or cooking ingredient you love? Tell us! Write: Sarah
Fritschner, The Courier-Journal, P.O. Box 740031, Louisville, KY 40201-7431.
Or e-mail [email protected]

Online: Ask Sarah a question at courier-journal.com/sarah

Armenians rally against president

BBC News
Last Updated: Friday, 9 April, 2004, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK

Armenians rally against president

By Chloe Arnold
BBC correspondent in Baku

President Kocharyan’s election win is still causing indignation – Photo

Thousands of protesters have attended a rally in the Armenian capital
Yerevan to demand the resignation of President Robert Kocharyan.
The Armenian authorities did not sanction the rally and warned that disorder
would not be tolerated.

Dozens of opposition activists were arrested earlier in the week for holding
a similar demonstration.

The rally comes a year after a disputed presidential election which saw an
easy victory for Mr Kocharyan.

On Monday, police arrested dozens of protesters after violent clashes.

Human rights groups have condemned the arrests as well as an attack on two
journalists during the demonstration.

Georgian example

Opposition parties, backed up by international observers, said the vote had
not been free and fair.

The main opposition leader, Stepan Demirchyan, called for a referendum on
the results of the election.

But after the constitutional courts turned down his request, he said he was
forced to take more radical steps.

Many Armenians hoped the country would see an uprising similar to the
so-called Rose Revolution in neighbouring Georgia.

Tens of thousands of Georgians marched on the home of their President,
Eduard Shevardnadze, last November, forcing him to step aside.

Many in Armenia blame the current regime for chronic levels of poverty and
unemployment.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as many as a million Armenians have
left to seek a better life abroad.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

AAA: Armenia This Week – 04/09/2004

ARMENIA THIS WEEK
Friday, April 9, 2004

U.S. SELECTS NEW KARABAKH ENVOY
Ambassador Steven Mann will shortly replace Ambassador Rudolf Perina as the
American mediator for the Karabakh conflict, U.S. officials said this week.
Perina has been in the post since 2001. Mann will become the seventh U.S.
diplomat to serve as the State Department’s Special Negotiator for Nagorno
Karabakh and co-chair of the so-called Minsk Group of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which also includes French and
Russian envoys.

The group is expected to meet with Foreign Ministers from Armenia and
Azerbaijan in Prague next Friday. The meeting was earlier postponed by
Azerbaijan, whose officials claimed that the agenda was not “precise
enough.” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has since sacked his
tough-talking Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev, appointing a cadre diplomat
Elmar Mamedyarov in his place. Mamedyarov was Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to
Italy since last December, and had previously served as Deputy Chief of
Mission with the Embassy in Washington.

The new U.S. envoy is a 28-year veteran of the foreign service, who was
charged with opening the U.S. embassy in Armenia in 1992. Mann later served
as the U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan (1998-2001), and for the past three
years as the Secretary of State’s Senior Adviser for Caspian Basin Energy
Diplomacy. In the latter capacity, Mann helped facilitate international
funding for the “Heydar Aliyev” oil pipeline, which is expected to bring
Caspian oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan via Georgia starting next year.

Mann’s appointment was first announced by the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan
Reno Harnish during his meeting with Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar
Abiyev. Harnish observed that the appointment will serve as an impetus for
progress in negotiations and questioned Abiyev on his recent statement that
“war in Karabakh could resume at any moment.” Abiyev has been one of the
chief war-mongers in the Azerbaijani government, making threats to that
effect in nearly every public venue for the past several years.

One of the leading Azeri columnists, Rauf Mirkadyrov, noting the timing and
circumstances of the announcement, argued that the appointment of a diplomat
who has worked closely with Azerbaijan on oil projects, is designed to
placate Azerbaijan which has long been dissatisfied with prior mediators’
allegedly “pro-Armenian” proposals. He also asserted that the mediators may
even push for a “step-by-step” proposal requiring some Armenian withdrawal
prior to status talks, as favored by Azerbaijan. But Mirkadyrov believes
that actual implementation of such a proposal is impossible as long as
President Robert Kocharian remains in power in Armenia, and that Mann’s
priority mission is to prevent the resumption of fighting.

Finally, according to Mirkadyrov, the U.S. is genuinely worried that
President Aliyev may lose control over the army, leading to resumption of
fighting in Karabakh. An Azeri opposition daily reported last month on
disarray within the Azeri military. According to its sources, shortly after
the brutal murder of an Armenian officer in Budapest, an Azeri army post
close to the Line of Contact was raided by Armenian forces and destroyed.
The fallout from the incident resulted in a conflict between commanding
generals and the Defense Minister, with an Army Corps commander Gabil
Mamedov at one point drawing a gun on Abiyev. The conflict was defused
temporarily, with Mamedov arrested, and another senior General, chief of
military intelligence Talyb Mamedov dismissed. (Sources: U.S. State
Department; Azadlyg 3-15, 30; Azertag 4-6; Zerkalo 4-7; Arminfo 4-9)

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION RALLIES SUPPORTERS
Leaders of the parliamentary opposition began a series of public protests
this week calling for the resignation of President Robert Kocharian. The
protests are led by last year’s presidential candidates Stepan Demirchian
and Artashes Geghamian, as well as former Prime Minister Aram Sargsian, and
involve nearly all of Armenia’s opposition parties. The opposition continues
to refuse to recognize Kocharian’s victory in elections a year ago.

News agencies estimated that between ten and twenty-five thousand people
attended the opposition rally in Yerevan’s Opera Square this Friday, the
largest opposition-organized protest since the elections. Following the
rally, about one hundred hardcore opposition supporters began a sit-in at
the square. The opposition leaders promised to continue protests until
Kocharian resigns or faces a “referendum of confidence.”

Following last year’s elections, the Demirchian campaign, citing electoral
irregularities, sought the annulment of the vote by the Constitutional
Court. While the Court ruled that the extent of irregularities did not
affect the election outcome, it suggested holding a “referendum of
confidence” as a way to diffuse political tension in the country, but did
not make the suggestion binding. Kocharian and his allies dismissed the
suggestion as contrary to the Constitution and amounting to new elections.
But the opposition seized on the ruling to continue to put pressure on
Kocharian.

In February, the National Assembly, dominated by the three-party coalition
allied with Kocharian, turned down the opposition proposal to amend the
Referendum Law to allow for holding a presidential referendum. The
opposition has since been planning street protests, holding meetings in the
provinces and threatening to topple Kocharian in a “popular revolution.”

Kocharian has firmly rejected resignation, dismissing the opposition as an
“aggressive minority.” In a television interview this week, Kocharian said
the opposition was trying to copy last November’s events in Georgia that led
to the resignation of the long-time President Eduard Shevardnadze. But
Kocharian stressed that the situation was qualitatively different in
Armenia, and that his government would resist what it considers to be an
attempt at sedition.

In the past two weeks, the law-enforcement agencies launched an
investigation against opposition leaders on charges that they have publicly
called for the overthrow of the government, violence against officials and
several dozen opposition activists have been detained for alleged
“hooliganism.” Meanwhile, individuals whom the opposition media identified
as security guards for big businessmen loyal to the government, have
attempted to disrupt opposition rallies by throwing eggs at speakers and
intimidating protestors. During a protest earlier this week they attacked
journalists covering the event, smashing several cameras. That incident was
denounced by the entire political establishment, including the ruling
coalition, and Kocharian called on his supporters to exercise restraint.
(Sources: Armenia This Week 3-12; Arminfo 2-3/9; Noyan Tapan 2-3/9; Public
TV 2-8)

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